Fine china is usually much more sentimental than everyday dishware. It’s often passed down for generations or given on important occasions like a wedding, so it makes sense why people want to protect it.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to pack china without breaking a piece or two. It could be that a packing mishap in the past led you to this article. Well, due to its fragile nature, protecting china and crystal during a move is a cumbersome process.
This guide will go through all the necessary steps to keep your dishes safe. If there is one thing to remember, it’s that too much packing material is better than not enough. Don’t take shortcuts that could ultimately result in shattered dishes.
1. Gather supplies and prep an area to work.
A little prep work goes a long way in streamlining the packing process. If you have a ton of fragile china to wrap, enlist the help of friends and family and consider an assembly line. One person can wrap, one can construct and prep moving boxes and one can place the china inside the box.
First things first, clean off a work surface for the packing process. If you have enough room, designate a small section for each type of china you’ll be packing. This extra work area is helpful if you have more than one person packing dishes. One can be working on bowls while the other works on plates.
Here are some packing supplies to have on hand:
- Moving boxes
- Packing paper or tissue
- Bubble wrap
- Packing tape
- Optional: Dish packs
2. Cut several pieces of packing paper to size.
Cut several sheets of packing paper and stack them by size. You’ll need different sizes for each type of dish you’ll be packing. Each sheet should be just large enough to cover all sides of the china.
By cutting these sheets in advance, you’ll save paper and be able to work more efficiently when packing each dish.
If your china is exceptionally fragile, old or expensive, substitute packing paper for bubble wrap.
3. Wrap plates one at a time in packing paper.
For fine china, place a plate face down on the sheet of packing paper. Fold in each corner inwards and bunch the paper together at the center of the plate to create a seal. If you must, use a small piece of packing tape to secure the packing tissue in place.
It’s important to wrap each piece of china individually to prevent scuffs and breakage. Avoid the temptation to stack plates and wrap them together like you would when packing more durable dishes.
4. Use a rolling technique to wrap drinkware.
To pack crystal vases, cups and stemware, lay down a piece of packing paper. Next, place one cup at a corner of the sheet and roll the china down the length of the paper. Take the excess paper on top and stuff it into the opening of the glass. Twist the excess paper and gently wrap the twisted end around the base.
5. Add extra packing paper inside bowls and cups.
Pack bowls and teacups by placing the china in the center of the packing paper. Take each corner and fold it into the center of the bowl or cup. Take an extra sheet of paper and crumple that into a ball. Place the ball in the opening of the dish, so that there is a thick layer of padding.
6. Line the bottom of a moving box with packing material.
We prefer to use bubble wrap for this, but you can line the bottom of a moving box with densely packed paper or peanuts, too. You want to have at least two inches of padding on all sides of the moving box, but especially on the bottom.
Select a moving box for each type of china. Depending on the size of your service, you’ll want one box for cups, one or two boxes for plates and so on. The smaller the box and the more packing material you use, the safer your china will be in transit.
7. Carefully pack each moving box.
There are special moving boxes known as dish packs that have individual sections for dishware. If you opt to use these, make sure that you fill in all space around each dish with packing material so the dishes cannot move at all. If you are using a regular moving box, make sure to pick a small or medium sized box where you can fit 6-12 pieces in snuggly.
Don’t overpack large moving boxes with fine china, because this is a recipe for disaster. Heavy boxes are more likely to be dropped, and you risk looking most of your collection if the box is handled improperly.
Keep like items together. Here are some tips on packing china and crystal:
- Plates. Place one plate right-side-up in the box and put a thin piece of bubble wrap on top. Continue stacking the plates this way until you’ve reached ¾ of the way up the box. Stuff the sides of the box tightly with packing material and do the same on the top.
- Bowls. Stack bowls vertically inside a moving box, leaving a few inches on the outer edges of the box for packing material. If you have room to add another layer, make sure to put an inch of bubble wrap in between.
- Drinkware. Place glassware on its side inside a moving box and make sure there is a little bit of space in between each glass that you can stuff with packing material.
8. Seal the moving box and label it carefully.
Before you close and seal the moving box, make sure there is at least two to three inches of packing material on the top and sides of the box. Densely pack the material in, so there is absolutely no movement inside the box. Next, seal the box with packing tape and create a label.
Labeling moving boxes is an essential part of the moving process. Take your time to write down the exact contents inside the box, such as the type of china and roughly how many pieces. This inventory is helpful in the event of damage. Also, make sure that you mark which side is up and put a very large ‘fragile’ marking on the box.
9. Keep the heaviest boxes on the bottom.
When you stack your boxes to get ready for a move, don’t stack them too high. One or two boxes high is plenty. Make sure you keep the heavier boxes on the bottom and stack the lighter ones on top, so the cardboard doesn’t become compromised.
We hope these steps on how to pack china for moving helped you save some time and energy. Are there any essential tips we forgot to mention? Let us know on Twitter, @LifeStorage!